- Publication date
- 2005-05-20 18:00:00
- saz, baglama, drone, droning, acoustic, atmospheric, folk, free psych-folk, free psychfolk, free psych folk, freeform, improv, improvisation, improvisational, improvisatory, improvised, improvising, jam, jamming, lofi, lo-fi, organic, other, psychedelia, psychedelic, psychfolk, psych-folk, space, spacey, spontaneous, modal, Celtic, Ireland, Irish, Irish trad, Irish traditional, traditional Irish, trees, treeplanting, environmental, Hothouse Flowers, didg, didge, didgeridu, didgeridoo, Hawkwind, traditional, Paddyrasta, Kerry, Offaly, Dublin,
A collection of recordings from the 1997 "Treewalk", an unaffiliated project involving a floating group of individuals walking around Ireland visiting schools, planting trees, playing music, etc.
Tracks 1-3 and 13 were taken from an interview done on Radio Kerry in Tralee on Valentine's Day. That was Inge's birthday. Thomas, the wandering Jamaican who we lost in Limerick, can be heard proclaiming "Yeah!" at the end of the first track. "Give Trees a Chance", it was decided shortly after this, was too dirge-like, and it got reborn as a ska version by Brian, which went down brilliantly with the schoolkids. It was a typically mundane local radio interview, so John and Brian saying various little bits of inspiration have been lifted out and dubbed over the music to give a feel for what the Treewalkers were trying to do by going on the radio. This was recovered from a crude tape recorded off the radio by Dave and Lynn in their wagon back at camp (Eoin's place, not far from Killarney). That's Saul playing the violin - he came along for the first few days. Nik or Gareth (or both) is playing the didgeridoo.
Track 4 is a tune that came to me quite suddenly when we were camped up at Uisneach. It was Easter, lovely weather, the Hale-Bopp comet at its peak, everyone in a good mood (although it was as we were leaving that John sadly decided to leave the Walk). I couldn't quite work out the last bit of the tune, and failed to complete it over the course of the next six years. I told myself I would have to go back to Uisneach! So when the 2003 Treewalk ended up at Uisneach (Easter time again) I went off with my saz until I'd 'found' the last bit of the tune, then borrowed BenJammin's MiniDisc machine to record a rough version. I'm quite happy with it. The recording's a bit marred by a bit of wind on the microphone, but it's not just any wind - it's the mingling winds of the Four Provinces meeting at the sacred heart of Ireland! This is the only track which wasn't recorded during the spring of 1997.
Track 5 was recorded in Kinnitty Castle, when the Treewalkers were invited onto the Joe Duffy Show (RTE Radio One) on a Saturday or Sunday morning - quite a big audience tuning in all over Ireland. It was the "Forestry Ireland" convention, just after the end of the Walk. Kris joined us on mandola to play a version of a tune he and I had spontaneously manifested the night of the farewell party at Maugha before setting off on the walk. It's quite lucky that there's a recording of this - a couple of Kris and Birgit's friends in Dublin heard mention of the Treewalk on the radio that morning, and stuck a cassette in and pressed 'record' just in time. Unfortunately the tape went a bit wobbly at the beginning, so an appropriately-themed voiceover from John and Thomas has been dubbed over the top, and it seems to work. Note the the drum freak-out and disproportionately ecstatic applause at the end! After the performance, Joe interviewed an Irish 'chainsaw champion' who was boasting about how many hundred thousand trees he'd cut down!
Tracks 6-10 were recorded in a barn at the Rigney family farm in Cadamstown, Co. Offaly at the Rainbow Gathering which sort of happened in conjunction with the end of the Treewalk. We'd arrived there at Beltaine, miserable weather, and Blair's New LabourTM government had just come to power in the U.K. The TASCAM 4-track tape machine we'd abandoned in Ennis during the early part of the Walk was heroically retrieved by Kris, and Dinger from Naas (who Andy Man had worked with in the woods down at Inishannon while training up Zymbii the mule) offered to work the controls. I'm not sure if the super-electric trebly saz sound was what he intended, but Inge's mandolin sounds undeniably gorgeous. Andy's djembe is unfortunately low in the mix, but he can be heard offering 'round his chai at the end of track 8. These are some slightly sloppy but spirited renditions of tunes (traditional and our own) which we had been playing a lot during the Walk.
"Master of the Universe" is based on the Hawkwind track, something we'd originally worked out to play with Pok Spacegoat at a gig in the Glastonbury Assembly Rooms a year earlier. It had become part of our 'silly repertoire', and I'd even been known to sing the words when in the right mood! "Caravette and Chanavesse" was a tune Inge had learned off some sheet music (from where?) that winter. I'm not entirely convinced that's the real title – no one else seems to have heard of it. This tune will always bring to mind the image of Louise (from Future Forests) dancing a hornpipe with the Collards' friend Noel in the front room of Maugha as Inge and I sat playing it by the fireside. "Betsy Bell and Mary Grey" we learned off a lovely Scottish minstrel called Jamie who was the first person we met when we first arrived at Future Forests in 1995 – we've not seen him since. It's a dirge about two women who live together in a bender by the river, much to the displeasure of the local men (who come and burn it down). He learned it off "a feminist" in Scotland and we've re-invented it as a sprightly Celtic tune. Inge learned "Buttermilk Mary" from a tune book Brian brought on the walk – that was probably our favourite trad. tune of that time, along with "The Old Copperplate" and "Jenny's Chickens" (as played by Janie on her pennywhistle). The "unidentified Irish tune" was taught to us by Kris, in the sincere belief that it was Breton. I've since heard a recording of an Irish ensemble playing this 'properly' with a couple of additional parts, but we usually managed to get a bit of a vibe going with our stripped-down version.
Track 11 was recorded in a studio in Temple Bar, Dublin, after the Walk, as part of the Trees are Life benefit CD project. A slightly different mix of this got used as a 'hidden track' on the CD. That's Liam O'Maonlai from the Hothouse Flowers reading the poem in Irish, John reading the poem in English, and Roisin speaking the final words. The tune had partially come to Matthew in a field on the edge of Limerick city during the Walk, when everyone else had gone on a busking mission. The rest of it came when he and Inge had a very far-out trip up the sacred mountain of Mullaghmore (on the Burren) a short while later. They both thought they had seen a stone circle, and without saying anything, both headed towards it, only to discover it had been an optical illusion. So they just sat down, got their instruments out, and started channeling this weird music. It eventually got condensed into a composition named in honour of Mick/Percy's particularly wonderful ayurvedic toothpaste.
"Wanna Go Back to the Jungle" was Brian's contribution to the Trees are Life CD. It's a song he was singing quite a bit with his mandolin during the walk, and it's lovely to hear this version with a proper bassline, etc. I've left the last word on this disc to Brian 'cos for me he represents the true spirit of Ireland better than anyone I've ever met – and effortlessly mingles the Rasta t'ing with it, too – a true Celtic/Coptic roots-man...
Mullaghmore - image from http://www.irishways.com/Gallery.htm
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